Sometimes writing for a beauty blog – or any blog, really – can be quite the eye opener. It's amazing what some companies will do to try and promote themselves while dissing their competitors, and today I came across a good example of this, on my post about the Ped Egg.
In my post, I compared the Ped Egg to the Microplane Foot File. I've used both, and liked both products (you can read my review of the Microplane here), and as I noted in my review, the only real difference between the two, for me, is the price, with Microplane the more expensive of the two. I stand by that opinion, and the respective costings are simple fact which anyone can check out for themselves.
If you look at that post, you'll see that the first comment comes from someone called "Laurie", who says she would never buy a Ped Egg as they're made in China and don't last as long as the far-superior (in her opinion) Microplane. Now, this may well be true: I've only had my Ped Egg for a week or so, so I can't comment on how long it will last, but I did find it a little strange that someone would be so vehemently opposed to a product they hadn't even tried. That set alarm bells ringing, so when a second comment came in from someone calling herself "Amanda", voicing exactly the same opinions, I was suspicious enough to check the IP addresses the two comments had been posted from.
(For those who don't know, your IP address shows a blog owner the location of your computer. You'll find more information on that here.)
Surprise, surprise: both comments had been posted from the same IP address, which suggests they came from the same location, if not the same computer. As it turned out, both "Laurie" and "Amanda" were posting from somewhere called Russellville, Arkansas. Which is…
…the location of Microplane's US office.
Suspecting that "Laurie" and "Amanda" were, in fact, the same person, and probably a Microplane employee, I decided to email them both to find out. I also copied my email to the address on the Microplane website, stating that I was looking for an official response for a follow-up story. Here's the response I received, which has now also been posted on the original article:
"yes, i do work for microplane, and just stated the truth. With recent products that have been recalled from China, I do not trust things that deal with my skin and health to them. We have done extensive research to prove the longevity of our products and they far outlast the cheaply made products from China. They copied our patent. If you want to support China and not the USA, then that is your choice. You get what you pay for. We have patents for a reason and when we are copied, then it eats at the very fabric of the nation and its economic health. Support the USA…Buy American made products!!"
Now, I'm not going to comment on any of the claims made in this, purely because I don't know anything about this issue, although if Ped Egg would like to make a response, I'll be happy to publish it.
What I would like to comment on, though, is the dishonesty and lack of professionalism that Microplane have exhibited here by posing as two different members of the public in order to try to persuade readers of this site not to buy a competitor's product. I find this underhand and deceitful, and regardless of the truth of the claims they're making about patents, I would not trust any company which resorts to this kind of behavior.
To be clear on this: if Microplane wanted to comment on the article under their own name I would have been happy for them to do so. They have as much right to comment here as anyone else, perhaps more so given that the article in question made reference to them. I would not have had a problem with Amanda/Laurie commenting here as long as she made it clear that she was a Microplane employee and was speaking on their behalf. That would have been the honest thing to do.
But she didn't.
Instead she pretended to be an ordinary, unbiased reader of this site. And then she came back and pretended to be someone else, so that she could agree with her first comment, thus creating the impression that lots of people didn't like the Ped Egg, when in fact there was only one, and that one was an employee of Microplane. (I wonder how many other names she'd have commented under if she hadn't been caught out?) She pretended that she was advising you all not to buy a Ped Egg purely because her experience was that it was a bad product, when, in fact, she was actually advising you not to buy one because she is a Microplane employee, and Microplane clearly have their own reasons for not wanting you to shop with their competitor. (And again, I'm making no comment here about whether those reasons are good ones or bad ones - that's for the makers of Ped Egg to answer, not me.)
In other words, Microplane lied. They may not have lied about their product – I'm sure they believe it to be superior to the Ped Egg, and they may well have grounds for complaint about copyright, who knows – but they certainly, and by their own admission, lied when they came onto this site and tried to convince you that they were fellow blog readers, with no ulterior motive for the comments they were making.
Of course, you can draw your own conclusions about all of this. Personally, though, I don't trust a company who are prepared to leave fake comments on blogs and to deliberately try to mislead people about their identity, in order to prevent them from buying a competitor's product, so I know I won't be shopping with Microplane again, regardless of whether or not their claims about their competitor turn out to be true.
(Disclaimer: Before anyone says it, I'd just like to make it clear that I have no affiliation with Ped Egg. I wasn't paid to review their product, and it wasn't sent to me for free – as the original article states, I went into a store and bought it with my own money. The product is available to buy, legally, in many stores and websites across America and in the UK, and my review was my own personal opinion. Also, as some people have already pointed out, I'm not a US resident, so I have no reason to promote American products above anyone else's. To be blunt, I really don't care where a product is made, as long as it works (although I guess Microplane's response would've been even funnier if I was actually Chinese!)